I happened upon Jimmy Swaggart’s A Study in the Word daily telecast a while back and saw a presentation which though it is traditional in Christianity also demonstrates that the tradition has no basis in Biblical fact.
The following is taken from Jimmy Swaggart’s Expositor’s StudyBible which is a King James Version to which he has added his own notes in red:
Genesis 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass (the phase used here refers to a long indefinite period), That Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. (This was Probably the first offering that he brought, even though the Lord had explained to the First Family the necessity of the Sacrificial System, that is if they were to have any type of communion with God and Forgiveness of sins. There is evidence that Adam, at least for a while, offered up sacrifices. Cain knew the type of Sacrifice that the Lord would accept, but he rebelled against that admonition, demanding that God accept the labor of his hands, which, in fact, God could not accept. So we have, in the person of Cain and Abel, the first examples of a religious man of the world and a genuine man of faith.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof (this is what God demanded; it was a blood sacrifice of an innocent victim, a lamb, which proclaimed the fact that Abel recognized his need of a Redeemer, and that One was coming Who would redeem lost humanity; the Offering of Abel was a type of Christ and the price that He would pay on the cross of Calvary in order for man to be redeemed).
He then, in his presentation on his TV show attempted to show how important his Bible is. He quotes a conversation between some author, a scholar:
“who has written any number of books, told Francis the other day. He said sister Swaggart, after he had seen this Bible, he said, if every believer had a copy of the Expositor’s StudyBible most false doctrine wouldn’t get off the ground. Most false doctrine wouldn’t get off the ground and he is 100% right.”[At around 15 minutes into his
For those who have discovered the way that fundamentalists redefine the stories in Genesis to suit their own purposes it is pretty clear that Swaggart’s notes are nothing but his bias and/or assumptions. Consider what he says: even though the Lord had explained to the First Family the necessity of the Sacrificial System, that is if they were to have any type of communion with God and Forgiveness of sins. There is nothing in the Genesis account about anyone explaining a sacrificial system to Adam and Eve or Cain and Abel. To back up his false statement or at best his assumption stated as fact he says: There is evidence that Adam, at least for a while, offered up sacrifices. Really? Where is there any such evidence? It would seem to be something that an expositor would want to include in the notes of his commentary. The reason Swaggart does not include his evidence is because he has none. He has merely presented a gratuitous assertion and hoped his appeal to non existent evidence will satisfy those who were initially foolish enough to think that his comments were worth purchasing the Expositor’s StudyBible. That name is no doubt chosen because of its similarity to the highly regarded Expositor’s Bible Commentary but there is really nothing that should be highly regarded in the notes of Swaggart’s Bible.
Most Christians have grown up with the idea that God rejected Cain’s offering because it was not a blood sacrifice. No where in the story is such an idea presented but it is assumed because of the traditions that have built up in the Christian religion. What is more likely is that God rejected Cain’s sacrifice because of Cain’s attitude. In fact when God speaks to Cain in the story He does not say it is about the sacrifice but He indicates it is Cain’s attitude that is the problem. In fact the story is used to indicate the foreknowledge of God.
(Gen 4:6-8 NIV) Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Today we are at a stage where Christianity has to redefine itself to reach post modern man and one of the things we have to do is respect the stories for what they say rather then what we may want to read into them. Many Christians are not even aware of just how much ill conceived tradition has been incorporated into their religion. There seems to be no denomination that has not incorporated some poorly reasoned or erroneous ideas into their religion but we don’t have to keep them and we certainly should not build them into Bibles.